O Log - Random Thoughts from Spain

[25-Feb-04] 

    I noticed that when I found a control, it was mine. I guess this is the idea. I've noticed in the past, however, in overseas events, that you could run into the circle and see a few controls, all within about 10-30m of each other. Even if you knew where you were going, this was a bit disconcerting. It was like trail O in the circle (and good training). Either I've gotten better, or the Spanish course setters didn't do this. Under USOF rules, you can't do this -- there are all sorts of rules about how close controls may be, if there on the same feature, different features, etc (I think 60-75m). I even believe they contradict themselves in places. I think these rules are bad, and prefer the freedom of course setters to have many controls in the circle. The idea is to navigate to a point, not to a protected circle of 75m diameter.

    They provided water in 2 liter bottles, with no cups. I guess there are two kinds of orienteers, those who find drinking directly from the water bottles unappealing, and those who don't. I'm in the former case. USOF rules prevent drinking directly from the bottles, tho I have seen plenty of runners do it. I think this is a good rule, tho unenforceable. I was just shocked that a meet with a 1000 people, drinking from the bottles would be an accepted and unquestioned practice. I found my own, unopened bottle, and was fine. I guess I'm in the vast minority in finding drinking directly from the bottles unappealing.

    At most European events I've been to, they give you two things immediately before you start -- control descriptions and a map. Yet at the end of the race, they only collect the map. I found this odd. USOF control descriptions are typically given out at registration, tho I remember BAOC once following the European practice. I guess the idea of the European practice is so you can't "figure out" the course on an old map or cross index common controls with other courses. I've heard American runners boast they have figured out half the course this way. I like the European practice, but if you are going to do this, you have to collect the descriptions with the map. I saw late starters analyzing descriptions from earlier runners. Or, perhaps I'm wrong -- perhaps the purpose of the European practice is convenience in distributing the descriptions, not a failed attempt at fairness -- tho I would argue that this practice creates unfairness.

    The last two races in Spain were the first I've been in that permitted a one minute study of your course before the start. This help alot, but I dislike the practice. It took one aspect of the sport away -- that skill of sorting things out when receiving your map and the clock (and you) are running. If I get more experience with this practice, I would look for long legs and analyze them for free. It seems to take some of the route planning on the fly aspect out of the sport. I hope this practice does not migrate to North America.

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